The result is a custom scent that's entirely unique to you.

By Sara Dickinson
July 09, 2020
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Looking for a way to switch up your fragrance routine without investing in a new perfume? Layering the ones you already have is an easy way to create a custom scent. But you need to make sure you're combining the correct notes to ensure that the final result smells fresh. To help you do so, we asked Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, the founder of DSH Perfumes, to define the scents that work best together, and how to layer them successfully.

Choose the Right Scents

The first step in correctly layering your fragrances? Identify scents that blend well together. Spencer Hurwitz reminds us that most perfumes have as many as 100 ingredients in them, which can make it easy to overcomplicate your concoction. That's why she recommends finding a perfume you like first, and using that as the base. Then, add a simpler option, like a single-note fragrance (often referred to as a 'soliflore') or oil essence. "For example, you might layer your favorite perfume with a light wood note or musk to add a more sultry feel, or a single flower scent to shine a light on your favorite floral—or even freshen it with a single bergamot top note," she says.

For more guidance, Spencer Hurwitz suggests using an online resource like Fragrantica to search through a database of fragrance information. Look up your favorite perfumes and consider adding more of its key ingredients to kick it up a notch—and turn it into your signature scent.

Pair Up Notes

To avoid ending up with a layered scent you don't like, Spencer Hurwitz suggests layering a softer perfume with a more dominant fragrance rather than choosing two scents that overwhelm each other (like two florals, for example). "Fresh, citrus scents are generally easier to layer with more notes than any other type," she says. "Also, simpler musk, sandalwood, and vanilla notes are easier to layer with more complicated perfumes to add richness to the base note."

She has another tip to avoid clashing ingredients: "I think it's best to layer two different 'formats,' like a spray over an oil essence or a scented cream or lotion so that you can control the impact of the fragrances upon each other," she says.

More Isn't Better

When it comes to deciding how many elements to layer, Spencer Hurwitz says to "have some fun, but remember that more isn't always better. It can get weird pretty fast." She recommends choosing no more than two scents to layer—at least to start. If you want to play with more than two, apply the dominant scent on pulse points and then mist the lighter scents over your head, she explains.

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